By Melissa Parnell
Somewhere in the midst of hoping to be a great mother it morphed into the distorted desire to become a perfect one.
I can empathize with the dispute the disciples had in Luke 22. This is the scene in Luke’s Gospel (at the worst timing) when the disciples argue about who is the greatest. I imagine myself there, trying to make my own case as a mom, pointing to the number of kids I have, describing the order in their lives that I have painstakingly attempted to instill. I see myself giving lip-service to serving, but focusing mainly on the trophies of my principles and pedagogy. I mean, come on, we rock Babywise.
But Jesus has a radical view of what it means to be great.
He says, “Let the greatest among you become as the youngest, and the leader as one who serves. For who is the greater, one who reclines at table or one who serves? Is it not the one who reclines at table? But I am among you as the one who serves.” (Luke 22:26–27)
So what does it mean to be the greatest mother?
Is she a patient mother? A scheduled mother? A teaching mother? A mother with a degree? A mother who has read all the parenting books? Is she the one whose kids never scream in the Target checkout line? Or the one who is chill while she leads her kids through a busy parking lot on the way to the van?
No. It’s none of these. The greatest mother, according to what Jesus says, is the mother who serves — who has the heart of a servant more than she cares about the product of her serving. She serves in the mundane, everyday things like diapers and dishes. And in things like schedules and cooking, even though oftentimes the kids don’t nap like they should and they refuse to eat the entree she planned and prepared.
She serves by hugging the child who rushing into the kitchen crying, right in the middle of when the spaghetti noodles are half-way in the boiling water. She serves when there’s nothing to show for it, when its impact is invisible, when all she has is to trust that God sees and that he’ll use it for good in the life of her children.
This, you see, is the mind of Christ. The greatest mother is the one who empties herself of her to-do lists, her agendas, her previous accomplishments, her potential feats — not in a fashion that’s mighty, but in a faith that’s okay with mediocre.
Being a great mom is about having a great Savior — one who went to the ultimate cost of serving when no one could see the trophy. The great mom is the one who knows Jesus died for her, and that when he died, she died with him. And that when he was raised, she was raised with him — raised to walk in newness of life, raised to serve from the heart.
So, sweet mom, if you feel stressed out by whining children and endless dirty diapers, may the mind of Christ be your encouragement today. May he be your comfort. May he be your joy. May you feel the riches he lavished on you when he became poor for your sake, so that you might pour yourself out to serve your children, your husband, and your community.
Melissa Parnell is a wife to Jonathan and a stay-at-home mom to four delightful (most of the time) children. She is a Minnesotan with a Southern-accent who majored in English at the College at Southeastern in Wake Forest, NC. She loves anything by C. S. Lewis and is allergic to Winter.
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